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Marco Polo: Gong Li on a vespa.
Tuesday, 10th July 2007
Source : Marco Polo Hotels
Think Gong Li on a Vespa or Jet Li in an Armani suit

and you have the new positioning that Marco Polo Hotels, which the company is aiming for in the new year - as it refines its service offering, expands its network in Asia and ramps up its marketing under a new global partnership.

Said Mr Jeffrey Flowers, President of the Hong Kong-based hotel group, "Like Marco Polo did a long time ago, we are setting out on a new journey of discovery this year."

"We are digging deep into our roots, which are firmly in Asia, to offer travelers a unique experience a blend of contemporary Chinese meets modern Italian."

This means offering travelers "an Asian hospitality experience with a modern Western facility that reflects the culture and traditions of the host city, as opposed to the global chains that promise a predictable, but not necessarily memorable, experience".

He said Marco Polo would work with recognized hotel designers to execute its development brief with particular focus on high quality food and beverage to further solidify its market positioning.

"Marco Polo strives to be a company that is 'easy to do business with' as reflected by an enhanced distribution system to facilitate the making of room reservations, market driven facilities that best satisfy the requirement of the traveler, and a sincere customer centric culture anticipating the needs of our customers."

Marco Polo Hotels, owned by the Hong Kong Wharf Group, finished 2006 on a high note, with its nine operating hotels posting double digit financial increases in nearly all markets, namely Hong Kong, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

It added two new hotels last year with the opening of the Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu, Philippines and the Marco Polo Shenzhen in the Futian District of Shenzhen in China. It added a new sales and development office in Shanghai, complementing existing sales offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Singapore, Tokyo and New York.

It also announced new projects in Wuhan and Chengdu in China. In April, it will open the stylish Marco Polo Parkside in Beijing. Located only 800 meters from the entrance to the 2008 Olympic Games, the hotel is sure to become a favorite venue for Pre-Olympic activities.

A December opening is meanwhile planned for the Marco Polo Wuhan. "With its outstanding river front location, the Marco Polo Wuhan will become the leading hotel in the city and will be the flagship of the Wharf China's new development, Wuhan Times Square, "said Mr Flowers.

Mr Flowers said that Marco Polo's growth would be driven by parent company-owned multi-use real estate projects such as its three hotels in Hong Kong, Wuhan Times Square and Chengdu Times Square; joint venture projects such as the Marco Polo Xiamen; and management contracts such as its hotels in Beijing, Cebu, Davao, Ho Chi Minh City, and Shenzhen.

In particular, it is eyeing major gateway cities such as Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, Manila and Tokyo as well as key secondary cities.

Beyond seeking out new projects, Marco Polo will focus on sharpening its service delivery this year. Said Mr Flowers: "Hotels are only as good as the service they can deliver. A great deal of emphasis will be placed on people development as part of our culture going forward.

"We have Ms Deanna McGonigal, a senior executive, in charge of this effort. She is a former hotel general manager and has the hands-on experience to develop meaningful Learning and Growth programs in support of the company's expansion strategy."

"Market research resources will be expanded to assist us in crafting the Marco Polo product to the specific needs of our customers, rather than having a 'one size fits all' solution."

"Each of our hotels will offer unique elements of what makes a Marco Polo experience, and that experience will have different nuances depending on where the hotels are. We are small enough to customize, unlike the big global brands that have to have a cookie-cutter approach to their services."

In food and beverage for instance, Marco Polo Hotels will play up its Italian heritage fused with Asian cuisine. It is in the midst of developing a signature restaurant theme that will offer authentic Chinese food fused with Italian flavors with restaurants to be rolled out in its hotels.

Marco Polo is also kicking off 2007 as the latest Asian member to join the Global Hotel Alliance, the world's largest alliance of independent hotel groups. Created in 2004, it comprises Dusit Hotels & Resorts, Kempinski Hotels, Landis Hotels & Resorts, Marco Polo Hotels, Omni Hotels, Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts and Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.

"We bring to the GHA table Hong Kong/China/Philippines while GHA will provide Marco Polo with a World Wide platform for marketing, offering opportunities and economies to better position the member groups against the Global Players. "

"GHA has established a travel portal that not only provides an internet booking engine for member hotels, but destination information, airline booking capability, and special packages. GHA members will cooperate at trade shows, consortia solicitation and will participate in a unique group leads program called "G-Leads" that offers meaningful incentives to member hotel employees for confirmed group bookings at any of the GHA member hotels. "

"Opportunities for participation in airline FFP programs that would not be available to the individual companies will be another opportunity for GHA as a whole. The notion of each hotel brand offering their own unique hospitality experience reflective of their own culture is consistent with Marco Polo's approach as a regional hotel operator with an Asian flavor."

Think Gong Li on a Vespa on the global highway.
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